Grosse Pointe FarmsAugust 30, 2012
DTE officials respond to outage problems in Farms
By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer
GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Power problems are a longstanding problem in the Farms, but in certain areas, they’ve become a severe issue, according to residents.
So DTE Energy sent a group of representatives to address these problems during an Aug. 13 City Council meeting. Joseph Cazeno, DTE Energy’s regional manager for corporate and governmental affairs, spoke to residents and city officials, as did Todd Henning, a senior planning engineer with DTE. DTE staff engineer Irene Lynne and Jennifer Whiteaker — who will be Cazeno’s replacement when he retires Sept. 28 — were on hand, as well.
Last year, Henning said the city had difficulties from Cloverly to Stevens, and they installed about 2,000 feet of overhead conductor in that area. In the area around Kenwood, Lewiston and Grosse Pointe Boulevard, he said they replaced approximately 2,500 feet of small wire.
Henning acknowledged power problems in the area of Merriweather and Moran, and said they had been working on transformers in that region. Although they added a regulator to boost voltage at the end of the circuit, he said, they were still encountering problems, so they continued to investigate and discovered missing jumpers on one side that have since been replaced.
Tonnacour, another problem-prone area, has an older type of cable that feeds along the back, Henning said. A tree fell and broke through the insulation. Crews taped up the damaged cable, but Henning said they plan to replace the whole lead.
In response to questions about ongoing work, Cazeno said DTE has a pole-top maintenance plan that’s on a five-year cycle. Through this program, he said, they test every pole in the community, focusing in particular on areas that have experienced downed wires.
Mayor James Farquhar asked what residents should do during a power outage or brownout, as some have learned the hard way that not shutting off or unplugging certain appliances can cause thousands of dollars in damages. Cazeno said he believed DTE had informational pamphlets that the city might be able to include in an upcoming newsletter.
City Council member Louis Theros called on DTE officials to be honest with residents and improve communications with them. He said the “mixed messages” residents receive have “heightened frustration” among the utility’s customers.
“Communication from DTE to the residents has been spotty, at best,” Theros said.
Lynne said crew members working in the field might discover new issues, which could be one reason why residents get different responses from crew workers than from customer service representatives. She said mobile applications are available for smart phones that can offer updates via ZIP code.
Farquhar and City Council member Lev Wood asked DTE to start working on a more permanent fix for the problems their community has been experiencing.
Utility representatives promised to improve service in the Farms. Cazeno said they would start compiling a monthly update for the city, so Farms officials could share that with residents. He said he would likely be able to send out that first report within about 30 days.
“I just want to apologize to the citizens of Grosse Pointe, and I hope we will do a better job” in the future, Cazeno said.
At press time, Henning said they were writing work orders for a project to address recurrent power issues in the area roughly bounded by Kerby, Mack, Charlevoix and Moran. He said DTE plans to split that circuit in half, which should cut the load almost in half and reduce exposure to outages. However, it takes about nine months to get the necessary equipment, so Henning said it would likely be a year before this project would be finished.
A large circuit around a nearby golf course also is slated to be split in half, which should also improve power conditions around a forthcoming senior development in Grosse Pointe Woods, Henning said.
Call Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran at (586) 498-1047.
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